As a police chief, I am angered and saddened by the death of George Floyd. Law enforcement leaders must have the courage to denounce actions that tear at the very core of the communities we serve, our profession, our values and our principles. We must continue to build trust and respect with our communities.
The Darien Police Department is committed to keeping residents and businesses informed about the safety of our community and the steps we are taking to keep you safe. Please understand that each situation is unique and requires a unique police response. Each of our decisions is based on best practices; our officers have been trained and are held to the highest standards in carrying out these responsibilities in providing our residents with a safe environment.
The Darien Police Department will stand with principled protests like those in response to police brutality and the death of George Floyd. We will continue to protect essential First Amendment rights of free speech, peaceful protest and redress of grievances.
The anger most are feeling is a justified emotion. The black community is angered, those who support the black community are angered, the police are angered. Though anger is a justified emotion and protests are a righteous response, riots are not. Two wrongs do not make a right. Having a justified feeling of anger does not mean we respond in an unlawful matter.
I believe there are three types of people in these groups: protesters, rioters and opportunists. The protesters know what happened is wrong and want to have a voice. They want justice and accountability so that what happened to George Floyd and many other black Americans never happens again. Protesters need to know what steps are in place or need to be in place to keep these incidents from occurring. I want the public to know that Darien Police are not trained to kneel on the neck.
We unfortunately also have rioters: individuals who just want to create harm and chaos. They may or may not care about the elimination of police brutality or about the death of George Floyd. They want to create chaos for a number of reasons. We should never lump rioters in with protesters. Protestors did not loot stores, burn businesses, injure officers or hurt bystanders– rioters did that!
The third type of person in these groups are the opportunists - a criminal element who are in the crowd to take advantage of others by stealing property.
Many say that protesters’ message gets lost because of the riots and looting. However, we need to remember that not all protesters are rioters or opportunistic individuals. Protesters should be supported in their right to speak out against such illegal, immoral and unethical behaviors by an individual who swore an oath to God and Country to serve and protect. As a profession, we failed George Floyd.
We encourage you to follow the City of Darien and the Darien Police Department on social media (see links below) for real-time updates. We are also working closely with local businesses to provide information that helps them make appropriate decisions about precautionary measures such as closing during civil unrest. We appreciate information sent via email or through Aldermen and ask that residents assist the police by not spreading rumors.
Thank you for taking extra precautions and doing your part to keep our community safe and welcoming.